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Nomfusi (South Africa)  

South African Afro-soul singer and songwriter Nomfusi Gotyana is building herself an impressive international music career. The gorgeous, 24-year-old songstress is tapping into the global music market with the launch of an array of shows in Canada, France, Norway and the US.

Known to the world simply as Nomfusi, the Khayalitsha-based singer has been described by some seasoned music critics as South Africa's answer to US superstar, Tina Turner. Her seductive R&B-flavoured, Afro-soul sound is charming hearts across the world, and overseas events promoters are starting to take notice of her.

Accompanied by her township-brewed, six-piece band The Lucky Charms, the singer kicked off her international tour last week with an exhilarating performance at the Festival International Nuits d'Afrique de Montréal, one of the most popular jazz festivals in Canada. The yearly festival featured close to 80 artists, more than 50 concerts, as well as thousands of fans from across the world. While on stage, Nomfusi ran through most of her popular tracks, including “Kwazibani” and “Nonstokolo”, and fans danced all the way through her performance.

After the Montreal festival, Nomfusi will head to Calgary for an appearance at the much-awaited Afrikadey Festival. This year, the songbird will share the stage with a host of noteworthy musicians including K'naan, H'Sao, PapaGroove and Bassekou Kouyate. She is also set to appear at the Roots & Blues Festival in British Columbia, where she will perform alongside festival favourites Royal Wood, Shemekia Copeland, Joe Louis Walker, Martha Wainwright and Joan Armatrading.

Genre: afropop, jazz, soul

Nomfusi says that her musical abilities developed at a young age. “My mother was a sangoma (traditional healer) so I would accompany her to Intlombe (an African ritual) where we would dance and sing for hours. But I never though that music would be my career one day because people always told me that there is no future in this industry,” says Nomfusi.

Her life changed dramatically, however, at the age of twelve, when her mother passed away. “My father was in jail for years so I was like an orphan and there was no one to take care of me,” she explains. Drawing on remarkable strength, she wrote her first song, “Uthando” (the Xhosa word for ‘love’) at the time of her mother’s funeral.

She could barely speak English when she moved from the Eastern Cape to Khayalitsha, but found a job at a restaurant where she was also required to sing between serving tables. In December 2007 she was discovered at her township church and offered a scholarship at Vivacious Voice, a singing and songwriting academy in Cape Town. Her lecturer, Philip De Villiers, who is now her manager, recognised her talent and helped her to establish The Lucky Charms band.

Nomfusi and The Lucky Charms were then discovered at a graduation concert by Universal Music, who signed her in May 2009. With the deal, she started recording her debut album, Kwazibani. The album, is named after her mother, and features a host of international producers including UK-based producer Ross Cullum. Kwazibani got favourable reviews upon its release last year and opened the flood gates to local and international tours.

In a bid to help impoverished girls in her community, Nomfusi and her friends run a book shop in Khayalitsha called The Girls' Spot, where young girls are encouraged to read and abstain from sex.

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